Embroidered Moon Shirt

I started this shirt about two years ago. It was one of those crazy ideas — hey, this would look so pretty if I  hand embroidered the fabric for the cuffs and collar! Yes, a great idea. But soon after I started, it became very clear that it was going to be one of those projects. Yep, the ones you get a little bit into before you realize how tedious an idea it really was. Do I really want to wrestle with this stupid thread and needle, or would I rather go do those dishes I’ve really been meaning to get to. Organize the sock drawer, yeah, that definitely needs to happen!

Okay, well, I’m not sure I ever organized my sock drawer, and many many sinks full of dishes were washed, but I eventually finally finished this project. There are plenty of projects I’ve dropped and never picked up again, but I was too excited to actually wear this shirt to let it moulder on the “in progress” pile forever.

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I am so glad I powered through and finished this shirt. It is everything I hoped it would be. The pattern is the Archer Button Up shirt by Grainline Stuido, and I used Sprout Patterns printed fabric to make life easier. The shirt uses two designs from Spoonflower fabric, poly crepe de chine, by designer Marketa Stengl. You can see why I was inspired to add embroidery to these gorgeous designs, I wanted to add a bit of depth and texture to the lovely embroidery inspired designs.

I got the effect by doing a simple straight stitch over top of the drawn design in sulky silver thread. Given that the fabric is so fine and drapey, I interfaced the cuff and collars. I love the texture it adds to the garment, and just that little subtle something special. I love that using Sprout Patterns takes out the irritating parts of sewing, leaving me more time to add unique design details.

Blue Flowered Birthday Dress

I think I’ve mentioned how every year I like to sew myself a birthday dress. This year was no exception.

I used Sprout Patterns once more, and this time chose a dress I’ve had my eye on since the very beginning. This pattern is the Anna Dress by By Hand London. It is super simple to put together, but still feels elegant without being intimidating.

I think my favorite thing about this dress is that I made mistakes all over the place, but because its got simple lines and a relaxed flow you can’t even tell. Most obvious, I wasn’t paying attention and bought the wrong size zipper. Which I didn’t even notice until midnight the day before I wanted to wear it, no craft stores open now! (As a sideline, I’ve always wanted to start a business that makes craft supply vending machines for moments like this.)

What do you do when you only have 9″ of zipper to close up 22″ of back seam? You modify the dress to have an open key hole back! I simply inserted the zipper in the 9 inches of the narrowest part of the waist, cut out a curve in the rest of the back seam, and put a button at the top! Its even a self-fabric covered button, because I had a few left over from a previous project.

Its not a perfectly fitted alteration, but it works for the casual look I wanted anyways. And besides, thats not even the worst of it. Halfway through I mixed up the skirt panel pieces, and discovered way too late that I had attached them in the wrong order, with the front three halfway around the back. Can you tell? Not a bit! I’m pretty sure the front seams were supposed to line up with the pleat lines in the bodice, but oh wait, I kind of screwed those up too.

And yet, with all that, I love this dress. Its obviously hugely forgiving of mistakes, you can put it together half asleep and still look incredible.

Altering the Alder: Sprout hacks

I wrote a post for the Sprout Patterns blog where I dramatically alter a garment using their service. I’ve wrote about it before, but Sprout Patterns is a really cool project and product I’ve been able to work with. They use Spoonflower to print a sewing pattern directly on the fabric. Think about that, no pinning tissue paper, no tracing lines, just simply cut out the pieces!

You should absolutely go read what I wrote in the two part blog posts here:

Altering the Alder: Part 1, Adding Darts

Altering the Alder: Part 2, Adding Sleeves

But if you really just want the eye-candy, here’s some awesome photos of the dress I created. You can also read my review of this pattern here: Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress ★★★★

Here are three photos that show the stages of alterations I worked with. The first is the shirt directly following the pattern. The second photo shows the difference some added darts can make. And the final dress has drafted petal sleeves.

I frequently wish I could see the INSIDES of dresses that inspire me. So in the future I’m also going to try to include construction photos, and inside out photos of garments I’m really proud of.

Sprout Hacks with the Alder Shirtdress

So the one big fear everyone has with Sprout Patterns is that since the pattern is directly printed on the fabric, you feel like you can’t make alterations, can’t fit it exactly, can’t sew “outside the lines” as it were. Dramatic alterations? Maybe not, but you can definitely get good sizing, and make modest alterations with sprout patterns. These dresses prove it!

Both of these dresses are made with Grainline Studio’s Alter Shirtdress patterns through sprout patterns. Now, the Alder Shirtdress is a very straight silhouette, almost smock-like. I, however, have lovely wide hips, and without a little definition around the waist, a dress like that would look like a tent on me. But I still loved the concept of the shirt dress, light and summery, and I thought it would be amazing in the poly crepe de chine. So I when I ordered in through sprout patterns, I ordered a size larger than my hips would normally dictate. After constructing the dress, I added four vertical darts in the bodice, two in the front and two in the back.

This added just enough definition around the waist that the dress curves with my curves that instead of hanging awkwardly and making me look wide, it looks like a lightly fitted shirt dress. Just what I wanted! The contrast fabric in the collar is perfect and adds that little detail that makes this feel like a custom made dress, not something I’d find in a store. And check out those buttons I found! (Fabric design byrochelle_new)

“Just added darts” you say?! That sounds hard! They’re not even in the pattern! How did you draft them? I didn’t. Does that sound wild? Its really not that crazy. I learned this method from a friend, and it is truly so obvious and easy. Want to add darts in any garment ever? Simply put it on inside out. Find where you feel like the dress has extra fabric, isn’t fitting right, or could do with some structure. Pinch that extra fabric between your fingers, move it around, shift until I feels right and then pin it together. (Sometimes its easier to do this WITH a friend, especially if you’re trying to add back darts.)

Once you’ve gotten enough pins in place, you’ve got effectively folds of fabric sticking away from the dress, but its not too tight and moves well, puts some basting stitches along those pins. Pull out the pins, and put the dress on right side out. Does it look like what you wanted? Excellent, sew along the basting stitches, you’ve now draped your own darts! Does it not look quite right? Back to inside out and shift-y pinching, draping fabric. Do it until you feel good.

“But how do you make both the darts exactly the same?!” I don’t. My body is not exactly symmetrical, why should my darts be? It takes a little practice to be sure, and sometimes my first try ends up with weird puckering, or a skewed dart. But in general, this method works GREAT for me for minor alterations, fitting well, and good structure.

This method worked so well for the first dress I made (the purple one) I had to have a second Alder dress. The first dress was out of poly crepe de chine, its flowy, its light, its a dramatic piece. But I felt like this dress could also be completely different. A different fabric, with a little more structure, a different design style, this could be a completely different dress. So I ordered it again, out of the cotton lawn, with an adorable design I’ve had my eye on for awhile with a crumpled paper texture and cute line-drawings of cities. (Fabric design by leighr)

I used the same method as the first time with adding darts to the front and back of the dress, and I liked it, but the dress was just missing that something different. I wanted this dress to have a bit more, structure than the first. With the fabric design, I almost wanted architecture. I decided, what I wanted was sleeves. Wait, the Alder Shirtdress pattern doesn’t come with sleeves! So? The armsyces are pretty basic normal armsyces. I’ve got a basic short sleeve pattern piece around here, yep, it looks like it’d work. Yep, there’s definitely enough printed scrap fabric included with the Sprout Patterns fabric, I can fit two short sleeve pieces out of the extra. Will it work? Let’s find out!

In the end, yes, I love it. The short sleeves add that just extra bit that makes this dress feel very different than the first. The cotton lawn has more body and the dress stands out and holds its own shape while still being soft and comfortable.

These dresses prove to me that you can still modify Sprout Patterns dresses and make them your own. You’re not stuck “sewing within the lines.” You can take a basic pattern and modify it in crazy different ways. It doesn’t take much to change the “attitude” of a dress.

I also wrote a review of this pattern here: Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress ★★★★

Sprout Spring Birthday Dress

So every year I sew a birthday dress for myself. The weather starts turning warm, spring flowers bloom, my favorite daffodils turn their faces to the sunshine, and I have a new fun dress!

This year I decided to take advantage of an awesome Sprout Patterns promotion, and try out the Colette Monetta at a discount! (They’re running this discount for the full month of march! Go get it!)

This dress was so fun and so easy to sew! With the fancy sprout product, I was able to take this dress from un cut fabric, to a fully finished garment in just two hours and six minutes. Slice slice with a rotary cutter, zoom zoom with my serger, out pops a dress!

I wrote a review of this pattern here: https://dressinsouciantly.com/2016/03/25/colette-moneta-dress-pattern-review/

Happy birthday to me!

I also spent some time playing with chalk art to create a cute sign for the kegs we got for the party. Mm, local beer!

Sprout Patterns Blouse

This blouse was another excellent project I completed from Sprout Patterns.

The biscanye blouse is a simple and elegant pattern. The collar and placket add a touch of interest and detail, without too much complication. The instructions were very simple to follow, and easy to get a clean nice result. I left out the welt pocket this time around, but I love the option to add it in.

I reviewed this pattern here: Hey June Handmade Biscayne Blouse ★★★★

The fabric is spoonflower’s poly crepe de chine, which is always one of my favorites. It has such a light flowy drape, but still a crisp hand. The fabric was designed by scrummy things, and is unique and colorful without being quite as far “weird” as I frequently like to go.

This blouse is comfortable and flattering, and perfect for the office, or can be dressed up for a night out. It turned out great, and I’m definitely a fan!

The Cat’s Pajamas

The moment I saw the tulip-like construction on the back of these pajamas, I knew I had to make them. They’re another offering from Sprout Patterns, which I know I’ve written about before. Then I found the perfect collection of designs, and I couldn’t resist.

designs

Want to see what this project looked like at Sprout Patterns? Check this out! You can see all the designs, and the 3D model, and if you click “customize this project” over on the right you can even spin it around, see the back, play with the designs and even change it yourself. Its so much fun to play with.

The pattern was super easy and fun to sew, once I got finished making the miles of matching bias tape. The construction of the back is just as fun and interesting and flattering as I knew it would be. The shorts are comfy, and shorter than anything I’d normally wear to the gym, but not unreasonable for most people.

A big thank you to Caroline Okun, who took the photos for the Sprout Patterns website, and Paula who was kind enough to model!

 

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas ★★★★

20lineartThe construction of the tank top makes this pattern one of my favorites. It was so easy to put together, so flattering, and so fun. I will say that the shorts are definitely too small for me to be comfortable wearing to the gym, or out an about, as her website suggests, but that’s probably more about me than about the shorts, haha.

The instructions make perfect sense, are clear and concise, and really give an excellently finished result.

I really love the construction of the back of the top, its got a fun flowy layer tulip look.

You can check out this pattern on Sprout Patterns, and you can read about my experiences making it here: The Cat’s Pajamas

Pluviophilia Rain Dress

I mentioned my involvement in the new Spoonflower project called Sprout Patterns before, but to repeat myself: there is an amazing new thing out there called Sprout Patterns and you really really must go check it out. The idea is that Spoonflower will actually print the pattern for various garments and projects directly on the fabric for you, filled in with your chosen design. They’ve partnered with a whole bunch of indy pattern makers to bring you a really diverse and excellent set of options. In addition, you can actually see your project before you buy it, projected in 3D in your browser. You can even shift the pattern around if you care about design placement, and they’re working on allowing design rotation so that you can accurately place border prints. Its so cool. This is what my dress looked like when I built it in sprout patterns.

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The bit on the left is literally what your printed fabric will arrive looking like, with obvious cut lines, labels, et al. I find the sense of scale invaluable when trying to judge how a various project will look with a spoonflower fabric design. Not to mention, the bit where you have to print out a pattern, tape endless sheets of paper together, tediously cut out all the bits and only THEN start playing with your fabric is completely removed when you use Sprout Patterns for your project. I cut out the pieces for this dress while sitting on my couch watch tv. I just followed the lines on the fabric. And it turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself.

I actually designed the fabric for this project as well. I’m one of those people who actually really love thunderstorms, cloudy days, even sometimes just the steady drum of of a rainy wet day. You know, when I can sit inside, warm and dry with a book and just watch it. So awhile ago, I designed myself a set of curtains with watercolor and ink pen clouds, pouring forth a stream of words, all quotes about rain. When the sun is too bright and sharp and loud, I can pull the curtains closed and it all gets softer.


I re-used the cloud elements to create a fully repeating cloudy day fabric design. If you like it, you can buy it yourself on spoonflower in small scale like my dress below, and large scale.

The pattern for this dress is the Colette Myrtle, and it was perfect for this project. The fit is very relaxed, obviously, without a whole lot of pieces, or a need for exact fitting. Considering the steps that sprout takes out, it was also very very very fast to put together. I even did french seams on the side of the skirt! The fabric is Spoonflower’s poly crepe de chine, which is still one of my favorites. Light, flowy, slightly textured, super easy to sew.

I reviewed this pattern here: Colette Myrtle ★★★★★

Also as promised, more pictures of myself, wearing my creations. This one is definitely a crowd pleaser, a winner, and something I actually get to wear frequently.

Sprout Patterns

So there’s a really cool new site out there! The perfect blend of technology and fabric. (And full disclosure here, I helped bring it into existence, so I might be biased. 😀 )

So, you know that horrible part of sewing where you actually have to pin that awful tissue paper to fabric, and it rips and wrinkles, and half the time you can’t tell which way the grain-line arrows were pointing? And god help you if buy your pattern online and you also have to line up and tape together every single sheet of 8.5″x11″ of paper first.

Now imagine for a moment that you didn’t have to do any of that. Imagine that the lines were simply printed on the fabric like magic.

Yes. Its true. Sprout Patterns can do that for you.

They’ve partnered Spoonflower with a bunch of indie pattern makers so that you can not only actually print the pattern lines on the fabric with your design, you can also even see your chosen pattern in 3D before you even buy it!

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Now here’s the best part. Until 12pm on October 30th, you can test drive a small lined pouch pattern for only $2 DOLLARS!

dress

(following photos from their flickr group.)
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